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  • #15687
    Profile photo of Bohemond
    Bohemond
    Spectator

    Many heroquests allow the quester to bring back a mythical item. In the rules on hero questing, it says that the heroquester prepares a special item to house the blessing and essentially ‘become’ the mythical item. What I’m wondering is how Gloranthans view such an item. Do they consider the item to be the ‘original’ item, or merely a copy of it?

    Obviously, if you do the Humakt Gains Death quest, and return with the sword, people know that your sword isn’t the original one; Humakt clearly still has that one, so at best your sword is only a part of Humakt’s sword. But what about a more obscure item? Let’s say that there’s a quest to recover Niall’s Sword of the Nine Blows. You perform the heroquest and now you have the Sword of the Nine Blows. There’s no logical reason that the sword you have couldn’t be the original Sword of the Nine Blows, except that your clan’s Gustbrani knows he made the sword that you took with you into the quest. What if some clan actually has Niall’s original sword? He’s their clan ancestor and they’ve always had it since the Godtime. Do the Niallings consider your sword ‘just’ a heroquested sword, or do they admit that your sword is just as much Niall’s sword as theirs is? Or do they deny that your sword is Niall’s sword at all, because Niall only had one sword and the Niallings have it?

    I could imagine that within a generation or two, as your sword gets passed down, it would eventually come to be considered the original. But would it acquire that status during the quester’s lifetime?

    #15691
    Profile photo of Charles
    Charles
    Keymaster

    In the stories (e.g. the Entekosiad), only the greatest of HeroQuesters have brought a physical object back from the OtherSide. For most HeroQuesters, they prepare as valuable an object as they can afford to be the receptacle of the blessing.

    In my opinion, when it is brought back, magicians can tell that it is Humakt’s Sword or a very powerful symbol of Death – depending on the familiarity of the magician with the relevant myths and their ability to analyse magic. If someone achieved the quest for Humakt’s Sword then they have actually brought back Humakt’s Sword.

    A more common quest achievement might be Orlanth’s Bag of Winds. One can easily imagine two opposing Orlanthi warrior/magicians each with their own Bag of Winds. I believe that both sets of supporters would recognise that both protagonists have a real Bag of Winds. But one of the warriors more truly incarnates Orlanth, through his own personal skill or through his communities backing, most usually a combination of both. When they use the Bag of Winds against each other, one works better and therefore is a more true Bag of Winds. And afterwards, no-one would suggest that the other was not a true Bag of Winds.

    A specific magical weapon, with a known provenance within historical time, might not necessarily give the same powers to its bearers. For example the Colymar Black Spear when it was borne by Agrath seems much more powerful than it was when borne by Leika a few years earlier (King of Sartar). Another similar example f(from Lords of Terror) is the Ironbreaker sword. These examples are the same as the quest for a magical weapon – the bearer, the bearers’s power, the risks the bearer took, the backing the bearer had are what gives the weapon its power. But still, the weapon is needed as the symbol to use that power. And the more valuable and storied the symbol, the more it enhances the power.

    #15692

    “In the stories (e.g. the Entekosiad), only the greatest of HeroQuesters have brought a physical object back from the OtherSide. For most HeroQuesters, they prepare as valuable an object as they can afford to be the receptacle of the blessing.
    In my opinion, when it is brought back, magicians can tell that it is Humakt’s Sword or a very powerful symbol of Death – depending on the familiarity of the magician with the relevant myths and their ability to analyse magic. If someone achieved the quest for Humakt’s Sword then they have actually brought back Humakt’s Sword.”

    .
    Charles, I really loved this post of yours.

    #15693
    Profile photo of Charles
    Charles
    Keymaster

    Hrm, thinking some more about this…

    The symbols are a large part of this. Someone that looks more like an idealised warrior likely finds it easier to get community backing than a limping teenager too young (or too female) to grow a beard. Until the community sees that ‘limper’ can consistently outfight ‘heroic’. And even then, there may be some that will argue that ‘heroic’ is more likely to attract support external to the community.

    Where I’m going with this is that, in many ways, the most key part is the community backing that a Hero gets. And being able to afford (whether though personal wealth, luck or a patron doesn’t matter) a valuable sword to hold the blessing of Humakt’s Sword makes it more likely that a community will provide backing and much deeper commitment.

    #15697
    Profile photo of Simon Phipp
    Simon Phipp
    Spectator

    In my worldview, HeroQuests are placed over a setting, to give a magical structure to that setting.

    So, if you go on the “Humakt Gains Death” HeroQuest, then you come back with a magical sword, because you have overlain the Sword of Death item/power over your own sword, making it a Sword of Death.

    All well and good …

    If you steal someone else’s Sword of Death, then you still get that item, but they lose it. They might have gained it on a “Humakt Gains Death” quest, but you might have used “Orlanth Gains Death” to steal it from a friendly Humakti.

    Still Ok …

    Now, if you go onto the GodPlane and do something new, for instance stealing Humakt’s Sword yourself, then you are not re-enacting a HeroQuest, but you are making a new HeroQuest. When you do this, you have to overcome the power of Humakt himself to steal the sword, so it is going to be difficult. Now, you have created a new HeroQuest, or GodTime Pattern, where you have the power of Death and Humakt doesn’t. This means that you have your own myths in the God Time and that you are a Deity. You start to be bound into God Time. It also means that you gain death powers and Humakt/Humakti lose them.

    Of course, not many people will be able to do something that powerful, but the principle is still there.

    If you steal Niall’s Nine-Blow Sword, then you have it and Niall doesn’t. Any magic that Niall’s cultists get from him having the sword is now lost. Your worshippers, however, gain the magic.

    That is one of the differences between getting a copy of the item and gaining the item itself. The copy gives you powers, the actual item gives your worshippers powers.

    #15726
    Profile photo of Bohemond
    Bohemond
    Spectator

    So, in other words, Gloranthans recognize items achieved during quests as copies of the mythic original, and not actually the original item. Even with the passage of time, no one will think that Hendrik’s Sword of Nine Blows is Niall’s original Sword of Nine Blows, but only a magical facsimile that shares some of the power of the original. So they see heroquesting as a sort of magical photocopying.

    #15728

    I don’t see it that way… and I don’t think at least (some) of the posts above suggested that.
    .
    What I love, of what has been suggested, is that some craftsman of a clan builds the best and the most AMAZING sword he can. It might look like the sword of the myth at hand… but then again, details might be unknown or even contradictory. (We have, for example, no schematic for Excalibur.) So, its the best thing he knows how to make. Beautiful, well crafted, honoring the myth and the god and the blessing the HeroQuesters will seek. As Charles suggested, “They prepare as valuable an object as they can afford to be the receptacle of the blessing.” For some the Holy Grail is a golden chalice inlaid with gems. For others, it is obviously a common clay bowl. What matters is that for whomever we’re talking about, it’s the best they’ve got.
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    The HeroQuesters then go on their quest. They succeed. They get the blessing. The object doesn’t change. It isn’t a facsimile in any sense in that it is the same sword that they left their village with. It looks the same, it bears the craftsmanship of the man who made it. All of that.
    .
    And yet, now, at the same time, it is not the same thing. It is blessed with powers of the God’s sword. It handles differently. When used in battle, it shines a light that startles. It might even glow with telltale signs of the Runes involved when not in use.
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    But what matters, like the Catholic bread and wine at the same time being the body and blood of Christ, it is the thing, and, by having lived the myth, it is something more and something else.
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    There aren’t a bunch of copies of the sword running around. There are swords — some of them with this blessing. (But even then, I assume the PCs are the coolest of the non-Historical figures running around doing such quests. The character of play are the heroes of the legend being told, the badasses everyone is hearing about as we make the story. But that’s a whole different issue.)
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    #15733

    Don’t forget that divine entities have the ability of pluripresence – while not being everywhere, they can be in many places at the same time.

    Everybody agrees that there is one original sword of Humakt, or sword Humakt. Even the myth says that a huge number of copies were made, though, still instances of Death, but no longer identical to Humakt. (If it is the original, it can take the shape of a dwarven axe, too…)

    When Humakt wields the origninal sword, he is present twice – once as the wielder, once as the weapon.

    So, in other words, Gloranthans recognize items achieved during quests as copies of the mythic original, and not actually the original item. Even with the passage of time, no one will think that Hendrik’s Sword of Nine Blows is Niall’s original Sword of Nine Blows, but only a magical facsimile that shares some of the power of the original. So they see heroquesting as a sort of magical photocopying.

    The Real Thing retains its position on the Hero Plane _and_ imbues the item that you have brought to the quest.

    I am not so certain that you have to carry the sword through all the encounters before you reach the step where you can take the sword – that sounds disrespectful to the myth, something God Learners would do. Rather, in the moment of return, there has to be a physical object present in order to bring it across.

    There is a question of practicality, too. There are plenty of quests which see the quester denuded of all items he brought along. Having the physical object in this moment could be a heroforming crisis causing you to fall out of the myth.

    #15735

    “There is a question of practicality, too. There are plenty of quests which see the quester denuded of all items he brought along. Having the physical object in this moment could be a heroforming crisis causing you to fall out of the myth.”

    Joerg,this is a really good point. And, as someone who claims no particular credibility as a Glorantha-expert, I post in this forum with a bit of trepidation. I know that many people have spent a lot more time poring over the materials and thinking this stuff through than me. Moreover, I really — I mean really — don’t want to bring down the Wrath of Frustration than can strike the heart of a discussion involving beloved fictional environments. So, everyone keep in mind I’m only speaking from a My Glorantha Will Vary point of view, and posting to sort out my thoughts about the material.
    .
    For me, I need my mythology a bit more slippery and poetic. We’re talking in words, using metaphors, to describe things that are ephemeral. Even if the Gods and Myths are real (and in Glorantha they are) Greg has gone to the trouble of doing something most RPG settings don’t do. He’s made the stories, the gods, the facts slippery. There is a poetic logic to Glorantha, and in whatever way a HeroQuester comes back with a blessed item shaped from myth, I want that poetic sensibility to be part of it.
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    That means, for me, not getting too logical about some of the elements. By “not too logical” I don’t mean incoherent or nonsensical. I mean using the logic of poetry and imagination and emotion.
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    When I hear the word “photocopy” it strikes my ear as an odd metaphor… to me (and this is only a concern for me, perhaps!) it cheapens the idea of bringing an item back. It is too modern a thought, too bland a metaphor, and turns the blessed items into something that you and I spit out of a little black box without a thought.
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    Again, this is my own problem, and nothing to do with anyone else.
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    For me, I could easily see carrying the item into the HeroQuest, relinquishing it when the time came, and then coming out the other side of the HeroQuest with the item resorted. There would be something beautiful and magical about that. A touch of completion to the HeroQuest that strikes me as appropriate.
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    And, honestly, I can’t give the thought of Charle’s description of a clan working their ass off to build their best version of what the host for the blessing will be! But, again, that’s me.
    .
    This post is not to contradict anything written above by anyone, not to threaten any underlying logic of how others want to set up their Glorantha. But simply to describe a take I might be taking with my Glorantha.

    #15737
    Profile photo of Bohemond
    Bohemond
    Spectator

    For me, I need my mythology a bit more slippery and poetic. We’re talking in words, using metaphors, to describe things that are ephemeral. Even if the Gods and Myths are real (and in Glorantha they are) Greg has gone to the trouble of doing something most RPG settings don’t do. He’s made the stories, the gods, the facts slippery. There is a poetic logic to Glorantha, and in whatever way a HeroQuester comes back with a blessed item shaped from myth, I want that poetic sensibility to be part of it.
    .
    That means, for me, not getting too logical about some of the elements. By “not too logical” I don’t mean incoherent or nonsensical. I mean using the logic of poetry and imagination and emotion.

    I agree with this. What I’m trying to figure out is how slippery the quested item remains over the passage of time, and how they understand the concept of the ‘original’ item. The Orlmarth have Orane’s Spindle. At some point, a clan ancestor acquired it during a heroquest. And the clan remembers that great deed. But I don’t think the clan sees it as a mundane artifact embued with Orane’s blessings, even if that’s what it is according to the game rules. Perhaps when it was first brought back they understood it that way, because someone in the clan carved the spindle in question. Over the course of generations, the fact that the spindle was hand-carved by a specific person is probably going to get lost and eventually the clan will tend to think that this is the original Orane’s Spindle. It was gotten through a heroquest, but it’s still the original. Folk memory tends to work that it; it forgets the factual details in favor of the memorable story.

    So for me that raises the question of how they make sense of a situation in which two groups or people claim to have the same legendary item. In Medieval Europe there were at least three items that were claimed to be the Holy Lance. Logically they can’t all be the Holy Lance, so did people make sense of it. One way was to suggest that fraud had happened. That doesn’t seem likely in Glorantha; heroquesting is well-known to produce these objects. Another was suggest that the item had miraculously multiplied; both items are genuine. And a third was to say “Don’t think too much about it; it’s a mystery of the faith.”

    But what matters, like the Catholic bread and wine at the same time being the body and blood of Christ, it is the thing, and, by having lived the myth, it is something more and something else.

    But remember, with transubstantiation, each piece of bread and drop of water contains the entirety of Christ’s physical being. Every piece is an exact manifestation of the whole, in its substance, though not its accidents. So no consecrated host is less ‘real’ than any other. This caused late medieval theologians to spill a lot of ink trying to work through the implications. While the idea of transubstantiation might be useful for understanding heroquesting on the rules level, I don’t think most Gloranthans have enough intellectual sophistication to make sense of things that way; it’s too abstract except for maybe the Lhankor Mhytes and other specialist scholars.

    Perhaps it’s just the historian in me trying to figure out the mechanisms of folk memory. I’m trying not to be too logical about their thought processes while still being logical in my thought process about their thought process.

    #15750
    Profile photo of Harald Smith
    Harald Smith
    Spectator

    I think you’d be hard pressed to find ANY item that was the mythic original. Most everything (gods, items, people, lands, books, etc.) died and went to the Underworld (assuming they were not destroyed by chaos). Even Humakt, Sword of Death, died (Orlanth finds the rusty sword hanging in the palace of the Maggot Liege). The Books of Zzabur were lost (equivalent of destruction/death). Etc.
    Since Time began, there have been at least two ways to ‘replicate’ such. One way is the heroquesting way noted above. You carry an object into the mythic realms and endow it with the powers of the original. It comes back as the original to all intents and purposes. Others may repeat that. And if one ‘original’ proves more potent than another (like the Bag of Winds example), then clearly it is the original where the other is a flawed shadow.
    The other approach is to create and enchant an object, more of the Western sorcery tradition. By appropriate use of ritual and spells, you bring the powers of the runes to you within the confines of some connection to the appropriate Action (i.e. mythic realm). You summon/dismiss runes, command powers, and otherwise form and enchant the object. This appears as a created ‘original’. But the process can be repeated by following the same actions. And each of those creations is original, though again one may prove superior, another flawed.
    If a name accrues to an object in mythic time (or via sorcerous action), then the quest to bring it back or the ritual to create it, will endow the item with that mythic name (e.g. the Vanak Spear). If a name is applied to an item within Time (e.g. Leika’s Ballista as a random made-up case), then that name is likely to remain with that item as it is passed from person to person as an heirloom. Lhankor Mhy initiates might be able to divine its heritage, but otherwise if it passes out of view, then it’s pretty much lost unless it is well described and recovered in some hoard/place. Most likely such an object would be remembered for its mythic connection/connotation, though, rather than the first bearer.

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